Want to Recruit Younger People? Look Within

Want to Recruit Younger People? Look Within

For the past five years, I’ve been working as an advocate for the causes I believe in and for more intergenerational collaboration. Young people like me want more opportunities to work across generations for change, but we also want to be treated as equals.  To...

Gary, 81, and Heaven, 17, Met Through Sages & Seekers and Became Fast Friends

Their heartwarming story is all about second chances, bridging divides and finding connection

By Sarah McKinney Gibson | Aug 7, 2023

Gary and Heaven

Gary and Heaven, courtesy of Sages & Seekers. 

Sages & Seekers is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that matches high schoolers with elders to combat ageism and social isolation through meaningful conversation. Its founder, Elly Katz, is a CoGenerate Innovation Fellow. 

A recent Sages & Seekers newsletter included a story that grabbed my attention. It was written by a highschool senior named Heaven who reflected on her experience with her Sage, Gary. I immediately reached out to Elly to see if we could track down a similar reflection from Gary and share both of their write-ups on our blog. So that’s the back story! 

Now get ready to feel moved by this example of how people from different backgrounds and generations can, even in just eight weeks, become friends. 

Heaven, reflecting on her friendship with Gary

Talking to Gary every Thursday is what I looked forward to most in these past weeks. Whether it’s talking about his life or telling him the things going on in mine, I truly felt that me and Gary were attentive to every word the other said. He taught me to make eye contact when talking to others. He told me to not apologize so much. He told me that I will be something great in life, and I’m just so appreciative that God has blessed me with such an amazing Sage. 

One thing that I will never forget is when I told Gary how my dad had trouble finding a job because of his prison record. Gary immediately asked if he could write a recommendation on how well he has raised me, to make the employers see my father in a better light. 

I’ve never seen someone care so much about a person they have never met, and I believe if everyone acted like Gary the world would be a little better. 

Gary also gave my dad a book he wrote called “Second Chances.” My dad loved that someone he didn’t know had cared about him. When he was going through a dark place, that gave him a little light.

I believe I connected with Gary because we are both compassionate and care about seeing a change in the world. Talking to him was one of the best experiences I think I will ever have. Knowing that even though life will have setbacks, that I can rise above it will always stick with me and so Gary, I thank you for that.

Gary, reflecting on his friendship with Heaven 

I knew I hit the jackpot when Heaven chose me among the eight other potential mentors to be her “Sage” during the eight-week program we had both signed up for this past spring.

Every Thursday, Heaven and I would spend an hour together discussing all manner of things as I got to know this remarkable young lady. What most impressed me was her absolute resolve to be somebody and make a difference in the world. I especially like that she focuses on the solutions to her challenges rather than dwell on problems she’s encountered.

Heaven has not had it easy in her young life, but that’s not going to stop her. Heaven wanted to attend a high school with a strong academic program, so she applied for and was accepted to a highly-rated school which necessitated a bus ride of over an hour each way. She never complains, just does what she has to and keeps her eye on the prize. 

Heaven wants to be a therapist and plans on majoring in psychology once she determines which college will be fortunate enough to have her as a student. 

And lastly, and maybe most importantly, there is a sweetness about her that melted my heart. Recently she adopted a puppy and to hear her talk about how much she loves him that puppy only reinforces what I know about Heaven. This is a very special young lady, who has already done some amazing things and will likely make a big contribution to the adult world she’s about to enter. 

Learn more and enroll to become a Sage or Seeker here